DVPC Extraordinary Meeting Report to Attorney-General

On 18 March 2015, the Legislative Assembly passed a motion calling on the ACT Government to work with the DVPC to convene an extraordinary meeting. The DVPC Extraordinary Meeting, which was held on Thursday 2 April 2015, assisted the DVPC to identify the key issues in the ACT relating to addressing domestic and family violence, including sexual assault.

The Meeting gave attendees the opportunity to have an open and honest conversation about how the ACT Government and other stakeholders could strengthen and improve responses to this issue. The meeting was attended by a broad range of stakeholders, including community experts, frontline workers, first responders, and importantly, people with lived experience of domestic violence.

Following the Meeting, the DVPC provided the Attorney-General with a report outlining a number of recommendations for addressing domestic and family violence, including sexual assault, in the ACT.

Of particular note, the DVPC has recommended to the Attorney-General that focus should be put on:

  1. establishing an integrated whole-of-government service delivery system to ensure that all ACT Government Directorates work together to deliver connected and well-targeted services and responses;
  2. challenging and changing cultures and attitudes towards domestic and family violence, including sexual assault, through primary prevention methods such as education in schools and community and workplace discussions; and
  3. ensuring that existing services are maintained and available to meet demand, including services for perpetrator intervention and specialist domestic, family and sexual violence services.

DVPC Extraordinary Meeting Report to Attorney-General

Latest ACT Government Announcements on Domestic Violence

On 1 April 2015 ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell announced he would introduce new laws to the Legislative Assembly to make strangulation an offence and allow prosecutors to use a victim’s initial police statement as evidence in court. The government has already embarked on program that could see sweeping reforms to family violence legislation in response to recommendations from the Australian Law Reform Commission.

Mr Corbell said he would introduce the first stage of those reforms to the legislative assembly in early 2015. However, he said growing unrest in the community over domestic violence, as well as discussions with the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Jon White and Victims of Crime Commissioner John Hinchey, prompted him to speed up some of the changes. The proposed reforms, to be brought forward in the next few months, would make strangulation an offence and allow prosecutors to use family violence victims’ first statement to police as evidence at trial.

Latest Commonwealth Announcements on Domestic Violence

On 28 January 2015, the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, announced that addressing violence against women would be a COAG priority in 2015. The Prime Minister also announced the establishment of a new Advisory Panel on Violence against Women, with Ms Rosie Batty and former Victorian Chief Commissioner, Mr Ken Lay, as founding members.

As part of this announcement, the Prime Minister announced three priorities for the COAG agenda:

  • A national Domestic Violence Order (DVO) scheme
  • National standards for perpetrator interventions
  • A national approach to dealing with online safety and the misuse of technology

On 4 March 2015, the Prime Minister announced that the Commonwealth Government will work with state and territory governments to deliver a national campaign focused on reducing violence against women and their children. The national awareness campaign is one of the initiatives the Commonwealth will work with state and territory governments on as part of the 2015 COAG agenda to reduce violence against women and children.

In other critical national announcements:

  • On 23 March 2015, Commonwealth Minister for Social Services, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced $230 million to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) for two years to 2017, with funding priority given to frontline services focusing on women and children experiencing domestic and family violence and homeless youth or youth at risk of homelessness.
  • On 26 March 2015, the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, announced that the Commonwealth Government will contribute over $1.372 billion to the legal assistance sector over the next two years to 30 June 2017. This restoration of $25.5 million of funding for Legal Aid Commissions, Community Legal Centres and Indigenous legal service providers build on the Commonwealth Government’s significant commitment to address domestic violence, both in terms of front line services and policies that will lead to long term cultural change.
  • On 2 April 2015 the Commonwealth Government announced $1 million was available to sporting codes to prevent violence against women and their children, in the form of grants which are now available through the Our Watch Sports Engagement Program which will grant four sporting organisations up to $250,000 to facilitate violence prevention activities in the sporting community. Grants to the successful codes will be provided for a three year period, and funded organisations will be expected to provide a substantial financial and/or in kind contribution to ensure the success of the initiative, which will also be considered as an indication and practical demonstration of their commitment to this work. Through this initiative, Our Watch will assist sporting codes to embed gender equality and respectful relationships into their networks and communities.

Opportunities for early intervention: bringing perpetrators of family violence back into view

On Thursday 19 March Australian of the Year, Ms Rosie Batty, launched the RMIT University report Opportunities for early intervention: bringing perpetrators of family violence back into view.

The report, produced by the RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice with funding from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, recognises that family violence is a national epidemic in need of a systemic response. It highlights the potential of the justice system to step in early and be proactive in interventions with perpetrators of family and domestic violence.

The recommendations of the report explore opportunities for improving interventions with perpetrators of family and domestic violence; including perpetrators’ contact with police agencies, justice, courts and corrections systems and programme interventions. The report also calls for responses to dealing with the intergenerational cycle of family violence through interventions which respond effectively to adolescents who use violence, or children at risk of using violence.

I am Daisy: A national app for women experiencing gendered violence

Daisy is an initiative under the Second Action Plan, developed by 1800RESPECT, with input from all state and territory governments. Meet Daisy, an app that connects women experiencing gendered violence to state and local services.

The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash and Ms Rosie Batty launched the app on 5 March 2015. Minister Cash said, “Women experiencing violence have well founded fears around the concept of ‘just leaving’. We cannot forget the frightening statistic that every week, one woman is killed by a current or former partner”.

Daisy supports women’s decision making and increases safety in a number of ways by including information about:

  • National 24/7 services
  • State and territory services
  • Specialist services
  • Housing and legal services
  • Specialist services for CALD, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and
  • Children’s services

Daisy offers:

  • A quick exit button
  • A get help button
  • Private web browsing, and
  • A Technology Tips page to increase safety online

Daisy is not just for women experiencing violence. Friends and family can use the app to support a loved one’s decision making, and workers to find the right services.

Domestic Violence Orders on their own can make violence worse

ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner John Hinchey has warned some victims of violence may be placing themselves in danger if they rely solely on a court order for their protection.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/dvos-on-their-own-can-make-violence-worse-warns-victim-20150405-1m8bx4.html

Mother of three calls for stronger measures to protect victims of domestic violence

Living with the man who threatened to kill her felt safer for 28-year-old Canberra mother of three Kate than wondering what he might do if she left.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/mother-of-three-calls-for-stronger-measures-to-protect-victims-of-domestic-violence-20150406-1m6mv2.html

Justice system failing domestic violence victims: expert

The laws on domestic violence need to include “coercive control” to cover patterns of abusive behaviour, a Canberra academic says.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/justice-system-failing-domestic-violence-victims-expert-20150403-1m7xd4.html

Time for Tony Abbott to step up and tackle domestic violence in Australia

While awareness of domestic violence has grown over recent years, government responses to the regular murders, terror and harm inflicted on large numbers of (mostly) women and children each day remain cruelly inadequate.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/time-for-tony-abbott-to-step-up-and-tackle-domestic-violence-in-australia-20150401-1mcmfq.html

ACT government to strengthen domestic violence laws

The ACT government will strengthen laws to make it easier to prosecute domestic violence offenders.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/act-government-to-strengthen-domestic-violence-laws-20150401-1md2p1.html